(in which the Thorns claimed their second comprehensive win of the young season)
Memorial Day ranks right up there with July 4th as the most American of celebrations. For the Thorns, the fireworks came from the team’s immigrants as our Canadian, Australian, Danish and French players did most of the damage. The final score was 2-0, and only by the smallest of margins not 4-0.
The holiday weekend and kickoff of the summer season started on a sorrowful note with Friday’s terrorist train attack. A moment of silence for the victims brought the greater world’s woes inside the confines of Providence Park.
But if you came to the match seeking an escape from such concerns, you were rewarded almost instantly. Amandine Henry bagged an own-goal off Julie King after only 57 seconds. The Riveters had barely finished their celebratory rituals when Henry made the score 2-0 with a shot from outside the box. It was her first goal as a Thorn and her joy was obvious and infectious.
Between the two Thorns goals, Boston’s Allysha Chapman was able to get to the edge of the south goal box and lob an easy softball at Adrianna Franch. This was to be Boston’s only shot on goal all day. While they had four other shots, none warranted more than a passing glance from Franch who had her easiest outing yet this year.
The biggest Thorn in Boston’s side this day was Hayley Raso. She got behind the Boston defense repeatedly, setting up one opportunity after another all day. She created the corner kick, taken by Nadia Nadim, that led to the own goal. In the 29th she was dragged down by Megan Oyster on a breakaway – a foul that should have been a yellow card. In the 39th, she found herself alone in the Boston box but her touch was too firm. Raso was fouled eight times in this match – the most fouls ever suffered by one Thorn in a match. Boston was clearly playing whack-a-roo and it bit them in the 90th when Alyssa Chapman was sent off for a tackle on Raso. The red card was probably harsh in isolation, but not so much in the context of the total game behavior by the Breakers.
The lone other foul committed by Boston was on Christine Sinclair and it probably should have been a red card. Sinclair was in one-on-one versus Abby Smith when she was dragged down from behind by Christen Westphal. The referee gave a yellow.
Sinclair also provided two near-goals, missing an 8-yard shot by literally inches, and a remarkable sequence where she attempted to head the ball while prone.
After five minutes, the Breakers found themselves in the same spot that Portland had been in last week after 48 minutes: down two goals on the road after a cross-country flight. But while the Thorns had been able to get the equalizers in 35 minutes, the Breakers were stymied for eighty-five. Perhaps the home-field advantage is stronger at Providence Park than Jordan Field? Or perhaps Boston just don’t have confidence in themselves – they have yet to score one goal when trailing this year, let alone two. Whatever the reason, this never looked like a contest. The main point of curiosity was whether the Thorns would score a few more.
Not since the home opener versus Orlando have the Thorns put together a ninety minutes like Saturday’s. Considering the roster still out injured, this is quite an accomplishment and precisely what the fans have been hoping for.